To paraphrase W.C. Fields, we went to the Virgin Islands and they were closed. Over the Christmas holidays, Betsy and I, along with 15 family members, spent a week on St. Thomas of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Most tourist-related activities were shutdown as a result of last September's devastating hurricanes, and some areas were still without electricity. The readily visible damage was heart-wrenching. Shorelines were littered with wrecked yachts and sailboats. Buildings were without roofs and walls and wreckage lined the curbs.
This past year, in their infinite wisdom, Wisconsin legislators eliminated the minimum age for mentored deer hunting licenses in their state. As a result, 1814 of these licenses went to nine-year-olds and under. Fifty two of these licenses went to children who were five or younger, including 10 who were under a year in age!
I'll turn 76 years old in April. For the past 15 years, I've wondered when I've booked a hunt, "Have I bitten off too much? Can I handle it physically?" I know I'm overweight, and I have peripheral neuropathy in my legs. Walking is not easy for me. Well, I've been lucky, and I've done just fine ... that is until last month's Wyoming elk hunt. I failed to keep up, and it almost cost me.
Other than a border crossing into Wyoming to see Devils Tower, I had never before visited The Cowboy State with the exception of a 1976 job interview in Sundance. Why had I waited so long?
Mitchell businessmen Dick and Paul Muth made the hunting trip of a lifetime in September. After flying to Fairbanks, Alaska, by way of Minneapolis and Seattle, a two-hour bush plane flight took them to Huslia, a remote central Alaskan village. From Huslia, a two-hour boat trip up the Koyikuk River brought them to moose camp for their 10-day hunt. Their tent camp was a Spartan affair, as not even a footprint was to be left behind in this pristine national park.
Some readers might remember Maggie Warren. She was from the Rapid City area, and she was obsessed with preventing our proposed mourning dove season. She went so far as to circulate a petition, collect the necessary signatures and get the mourning dove issue on the fall ballot. Fortunately we have a dove season today, and while I question Ms. Warren's thinking, I don't question that Maggie was a good person. Today hunter numbers are dwindling. In South Dakota, we have more non-resident pheasant
How about coming along on my East River Charles Mix County deer hunt. I've been perched on a slope for about three hours, waiting for a mature whitetail buck to wander within my shooting comfort zone. I'm on a south slope facing north. Though a strong wind is gusting out of the south, I'm beneath the rim and I don't believe the wind will affect deer on the bottom below. Soon after I arrive, a small lone buck and then a doe amble through without concern. It strengthens my thoughts on the wind at my back.
During my 21 years as Wagner's 7-12 school principal (1976-1997), truancy was my greatest challenge. When all efforts failed, I signed an official complaint. The child, guardian and I ultimately wound up in front of Judge Paul Kern in the Lake Andes courthouse. A stern lecture and threat of a healthy fine got the job done. When Judge Kern spoke, those kids listened. Paul Kern hunted pheasants before I thought about coming to South Dakota. The judge recently
Baseball, apple pie, the Mitchell Gun Show — as American as it gets! Rob Moore and his staff did a great job putting the show together, and Betsy and I had a fine time visiting with column readers and old friends. And yes, the 4-H concession team should open a soup kitchen — the food was that good!
On Thursday morning, Oct. 19, I received a phone call from a man who said he called me because I seemed to have a sense of what's going on with our pheasants. After mentioning that he had a degree in wildlife management, he said he realized that habitat was of paramount importance, but that something more was going on out there.